The Boone Dawdle, our annual summer fundraiser, is just around the corner on Saturday, August 18th. This event features a leisurely bike ride from Columbia to Rocheport, dinner and wine on a bluff top overlooking the Missouri river, a concert by the psych band Cave, and an outdoor screening of a new documentary.
This year’s film is The Source, directed by Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos. The Source tells the fascinating and outrageous story of a late 60s/ early 70s New Age communal family led by health food guru Jim Baker, later known as Father Yod and Yahowha. On hand to answer questions after the screening will be co-director Jodi Wille and Isis Aquarian, the Source Family’s historian and archive keeper. Isis’s stunning footage of the family makes the film, and she is still involved in the preservation of the The Source’s legacy and Father Yod’s teachings at Yahowha.org. I was lucky enough to get the chance engage Isis in a lengthy conversation about the family and the film. This is the first part that discussion; the second will be published after the Dawdle. -Dan Steffen
TRUE/FALSE: I’d like to begin by asking about how things started. How did you first meet Jim Baker/Father Yod?
ISIS AQUARIAN: I had moved out of D.C. and the whole socialite whirlwind I was in. In my early 20s I was working as a social aid under Johnson, basically being arm candy for a senator and giving up my life to support his goals. I realized that this was not the life I wanted.
I moved to NYC. I went to parties at Andy Warhol’s place, met Salvador Dali and the like, and was working with Braniff airlines who were the coolest thing happening. I started to hear about flower children and drop outs and acid and pot and love and peace out in California. I left NYC for a whole new adventure in L.A.
I first met Jim Baker at the Old World Restaurant on Sunset blvd. which he owned and ran. I would hang out at the Old World and observe Jim who was very handsome and charismatic. He was already a legend in Hollywood as a food guru. He had another famous restaurant on Sunset called The Aware Inn.
I moved in with the famous photographer Ron Raffaelli and helped him run his studio. He shot all of the famous album covers and rock groups of the time. I mean everyone! One day, we were looking to photograph people who looked like Jesus, and I remembered hearing Jim had opened a new restaurant called The Source that was more hippie, vegetarian, and vegan, where they were wearing robes and had long hair like Jesus.
I had not seen Jim in a few years. He had become a student of Yogi Bhajan and was into the eastern yogi vibration, but had left the yogi to form his own communal family, knowing that there was something more in tune with this time than the Eastern ideas. Something more western and New Age. East had just met West. This was the beginning of The Source Brotherhood. They had just rented their first communal home, a mansion in the Hollywood Hills.
So, I pulled into The Source parking lot thinking what a cute, happening, fun open patio restaurant. Everyone was so beautiful and positive; it was a very unique happening. I asked for Jim and someone said, Oh, you mean Father, I will get him. Out walked Father looking like Moses with a following of laughing, beautiful men and women. This was something else happening. He was in a frequency of spirit such that when I walked into it I could feel it uplifting my being and changing my frequency to match what was happening around me. He looked at me and I looked at him. We hugged and he said “I was wondering when you would show up, welcome home”.
T/F: How long was it before you knew the restaurant and the family were something you wanted to be a part of?
IA: I knew immediately nothing would be the same with me or in my world. It was as if . . . this was what I was waiting for and I finally found it. There was so much happening in the 60’s and 70’s with people looking for spiritual groups, I just never found the one that was right for me, but that day I knew I just found it.
Father gave me his book Liberation and told me to come to the mansion tomorrow morning at 4 A.M. I went to that morning meditation after staying up all night and reading Liberation, and I knew that I was about to give up everything to enter a new reality. What I had just seen, felt and experienced held more for me on all levels of my being than anything up to that point, including my life with Ron and the studio. I told Ron about it and wanted him to with me, but he didn’t buy into it, so I knew I was leaving and going forward.
Two days later I got a call from Father. He said that the first home birth in the brotherhood was happening today and asked if I would come with a camera to record and document. I did and I never left. Nothing from my life fit into this new one, the clothes, shoes, books, anything. This was a whole new genre and I walked out of one room and into the open door of another life/room and never looked back. When I arrived, Father told me right away that I was the family historian and archive keeper and my destiny would be to save the legacy.
T/F: Certainly the film would not be what it is without the fascinating archive of audio, film, and photographs you collected. Did you feel like you were particularly suited for the role of archive keeper?
I have always been suited for the role of archiving and documenting for some reason. It was what my father did for the air force and I grew up always being photographed. Our home movies were done in 16 mm with sound when most families had at most 8 mm with no sound. I was the oldest of seven, and my mother was very good at keeping fun things from all of our childhoods. Living in the service we moved a lot, so this was one way she figured we would feel secure since we kept having to leave people and stuff.
When I left home and moved to D.C. I found myself in the social whirl with elite circles and white house events. I always had a point and shoot camera to capture all of the excitement. When I hit L.A. and “dropped out” as they say, I seemed to be more free flowing and just let things happen naturally without having to document them. But I ended up dating a famous rock and roll photographer and running his studio, so here I was back to documenting and archiving. Ron is the type of person who keeps everything. I was able to go back 40 years later and have him share some of his photos from the 60s with me.
T/F: Is there any special significance to the names Father Yod and Yahowha?
IA: We were pretty well honing in on the Tetragrammaton of the Hebrew Holy of Holies, the YHVH- YOD HE VAU HE- the name that was not supposed to be spoken or written, so just the letters were used in Hebrew. Father was into bringing everything from the past and upgrading it into the now. The mentality was that we were ending an age and a new golden age was upon us, the Aquarian Age, and that there were no more secrets. It was time for the upgrade of all humanity and everything on this planet Earth. We were morphing from human to spiritual being as our next incarnation process. Yod also means the finger of God, as in the finger of God touching Adam or man and creating.
This is not to say that he was God or the one and only God, but to represent it and bring it back out of the shadows. We always said that yes, Father was God, but so are we. All mankind are God beings and that will be our next incarnation, the spiritual man or spiritual being. That is the message of Jesus. He was the prototype of the new evolutionary process of man.
T/F: Is it possible to give a concise summary of Father Yod’s fundamental teaching? Or at least what you view as the core of his philosophy?
We went through all other known religions, teachings, and concepts, especially the ancient or secret mystery teachings. So there was a lot that was a core to his philosophy. Most of the teachings were just to be able to really step into the spiritual path enough for the evolution and to maintain that evolution.
I think the two things that ended up being the essential core would be:
1. The name of YHVH as you can trace life on this Earth and the spiritual realms all within it.
2. His last wish for us, to just be kind. He said “do what you want, just be kind”. For to understand this and really be able to do so in all things means you have to stop reacting and start relating on a soul to soul energy with people, situations, and even yourself.
T/F: Was the band, the Yahowha 13, conceived as part of the family from the beginning, or did it come later? What role did music play in the family’s life?
IA: We first lived communal in what we called The Mother House. There were a lot of people who came into the family with music talent and background, but there was no band or thought of one at the time, people would just gather with each other and jam. When we found our next communal home, The Father House, it was decided to take the two car garage and turn it into a band room and recording studio for us to do our own music.
It was decided to form a family band called Spirit of 76. Father joined them later in some of the jams with back up singers. Eventually, Father formed his own band called Yahowha 13 to sing and relate the wisdom as it came through. Everything from this band was spontaneous. Our last band was called Breath, which Father said was the new Yahowha 13. We do have some of those (Breath) recordings, but by then we were living in S.F. and still moving around, and we never did press any vinyls.
Music was a great gift to the family to enjoy and be part of. Father loved the creativity and fun of it. He said music was a universal language that all could relate to. He called it keeping in the beat of the times. Music archives and keeps records of the mindset and energy of time frames.
Check back later for the second part of my conversation with Isis. Or better yet, pick up tickets to the 2012 Boone Dawdle and ask her your own questions in person. Prices increase on August 10th, so be sure to get your tickets soon.